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Bob Mangia, A Remarkable Neighbor
Harrison West Society honors community member with annual award
By Mary MacDonald
January/February 2015 Issue

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Bob Mangia displays his Neighbor of the Year award during a gathering at Zeno's Bar and Grill in Harrison West on December 17, 2014. Photo © Kristen Easterday

The Neighbor of the Year award was based on “amount of time spent working on behalf of Harrison West” then Bob Mangia probably should have been the very first person to receive this award. There are likely many residents new and old who might not know Bob, but we are all beneficiaries of the very visible work he has done to improve our neighborhood since he moved onto Bradley Street in 1997.

Bob’s devotion to the creation, preservation and care of the green spaces in Harrison West ensures that there are pockets of natural beauty throughout our neighborhood. This passion for our neighborhood parks began shortly after Bob moved here. If things went differently and neighbors like Bob weren’t so active, our serene Side by Side Park would have very likely been condominiums. Bob was among the planners who helped organize a group of neighbors to clean up the vacant and dirty lot that would ultimately become Side By Side Park. It was the desire to preserve that little plot of land as a pocket park for the neighborhood at our West Third Avenue entrance that ignited Bob’s passion for protecting and promoting green spaces throughout Harrison West. Neighbor Adrienne Kaiser Ruenzi notes that she thinks of Bob every time she walks through Side by Side Park with her dogs. Not only did Bob advocate for and help to create the park, but he chairs the committee that works with neighbors and volunteers to keep it and all of Harrison West parks looking beautiful.

Bob’s work with the Parks Committee ensured that Wagenbrenner and the City incorporated green spaces within the new Harrison Park development that replaced the AC Humko plant. He also worked to create Wheeler Dog Park and participated in the discussions about how to make it more functional (and therefore more fun) for the neighbors and their furry companions who love it. Bob also makes sure that equal time is given to the Harrison West Park on Fourth Avenue and Oregon so that Harrison West’s original park gets love, attention and ample upkeep too.

Says his longtime partner, Jeff Gill, “Bob gets involved whenever and however it is needed if it affects the greenspace in the neighborhood, and he’s made some very helpful friends and allies along the way, from former Columbus Recreation and Parks Director Alan McKnight to Maureen Lorenz who has helped with the landscape and design of Harrison Park.”

In addition to all that Bob has done for the neighborhood as a whole, it’s his care and devotion for his neighbors that endear him to all of us. It’s fitting that Bob works at Market Blooms and creates gorgeous floral arrangements for occasions large and small, happy and somber. If I need someone to walk and feed my dog or drop me off at the airport, I know Bob’s only a call or text away. Bob loves to socialize with his neighbors. On warm summer nights he’ll bring a bottle of wine out to share on cozy, quiet little Bradley Street. He and Jeff hosted a day-long brunch during our unexpected hurricane since we all had nowhere else to go. And when things happen good and sad, a colorful floral arrangement (and sometimes a bottle of wine or homemade cookies) might mysteriously appear to brighten your mood even more. Bob is a friend to Harrison West and we’re lucky to have him safeguarding and beautifying our parks.

The Harrison West neighborhood certainly would not be what it is today without Bob Mangia. As a neighbor and friend for the past almost 10 years, we’ve witnessed firsthand the effort and dedication that Bob has put into making the neighborhood a better place for everyone here. I sort of think of Bob as the watchdog of the neighborhood. You’ll see him walking throughout the streets and parks daily with his dog Nicho, but he’s not just walking his dog. He’s keeping an eye on our neighborhood, making sure everything is in its rightful place, and reporting anything that is out of the ordinary. It might be a down street limb, or lights out over a major intersection, or a lost dog, or the night before street sweeping where he reminds you to move your car – Bob is there making sure the neighborhood is running smoothly. Many people might not see this dedication to our neighborhood on a regular basis as we do, but as you go home tonight, know that there is a passionate civic advocate and friendly neighbor watching over us all.

Mark Subel contributed to this story.

The Harrison West Society, founded in 1975, meets every third Wednesday in the Harrison Park Condos Community Center, 575 West First Ave. Visit www.harrisonwest.org to learn more.

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